Policy: Henrico County Public Schools

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Police policy for School Resource Officers (SROs) or officer's responding to a call for service at any public school in Henrico County.

GENERAL ORDER G-120-17: HENRICO COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Find below complete policy content or download the official directive

PURPOSE

To provide direction and instruction to Police Officers who are serving as School Resource Officers (SROs) or to any Police Officer who may be assigned to respond to a call for service at any school in Henrico County.

The Henrico County Police Division School Services Unit provides support to all Henrico County Public Schools as a cooperative effort between the Police Division and Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS). The officers in the School Services Unit help to provide a safe school environment for students and staff, and serve as the primary officer to handle police-related calls for service at their assigned school. Schools which utilize properly trained School Resource Officers (SROs) are safer; however, SROs in and of themselves do not create a safe school environment. Creating safe environments requires the collaboration of school personnel, emergency services, students, parents, and guardians. This partnership begins with a positive working relationship between the Chief of Police and the Superintendent of Schools. Open lines of communication are critical to the success of any effort between HCPS and the Police Division. When situations involving violations of the HCPS Code of Student Conduct arise, the SRO or responding Police Officer should be involved only if criminal activity has occurred and when, in the opinion of that officer, law enforcement involvement is required to adequately address the problem.

POLICY

School Resource Officers shall be bound by all laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Henrico County Police Division policies and procedures while working in Henrico County Schools.

DEFINITIONS

1. Certified Juvenile Services Officer (JSO) – A Henrico County Police Officer who has completed a specific regimen of training as established by the School Services Unit in corroboration with the Henrico County Police Division Training Unit and who has maintained that certification through required recurrent training.

2. School Resource Officer (SRO) – (Code of Virginia §9.1-101) A certified law-enforcement officer hired by the local law-enforcement agency to provide law-enforcement and security services to Virginia public elementary and secondary schools.

3. School Security Officers (SSO) – (Code of Virginia §22.1-280.2:1) Authorizes local school boards to employ School Security Officers (SSOs), as defined in §9.1-101 of the Virginia State Code. School Security Officer, under this section of the code, means an individual who is employed by the local school board for the singular purpose of maintaining order and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of school board policies, and detaining students violating the law or school board policies on school property or at school-sponsored events and who is responsible solely for ensuring the safety, security, and welfare of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors in the assigned school.

4. School Services Supervisors – One or more of the following positions: Sergeant, Lieutenant, and/or Captain assigned to oversee the School Resource Officer Program.

GUIDELINES

I. DUTIES / PRIMARY JOB RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SRO
A. School Resource Officers have the primary responsibility of protecting students and educators from threats that may occur within the school to which they are assigned. SROs are expected to perform all related functions that ensure the safety of students and faculty is preserved to the best of their ability.

B. Each SRO serves as a full-time law enforcement official within any school to which he/she is assigned. When school is in session, SROs will report to their assigned school(s) Monday-Friday. All SROs or substitute SROs are employees of the Henrico County Police Division and as such they shall not perform any duties or functions that have not been approved by the Chief of Police (or his designee).

C. SROs shall contribute to school safety by ensuring a safe and secure campus, educating students about law-related topics, and mentoring students as informal counselors and role models.

D. The Chief of Police has approved each of the following as standard duties and responsibilities for SROs:

1. Complete all Police Division reports related to incidents in which their law enforcement services are required;
2. Complete investigations at their assigned school(s) or upon request from another school when the regularly assigned officer is not available;
3. Follow-up on missing person reports involving students at any school they are assigned;
4. Gather intelligence related to criminal activity occurring in their assigned school or involving the students at that school;
5. Act as a liaison between the school and other units within the Henrico County Police Division who may be investigating crimes involving students as victims or suspects;
6. Assist with narcotic canine sweeps at the request of the HCPS Emergency Manager;
7. Address traffic or parking enforcement issues on school grounds or on adjacent streets when such traffic/parking is directly related to school functions;
8. Patrol the school campus and be highly visible to students, staff, and visitors;
9. Meet with school administration and faculty as needed and attend school meetings and activities when possible to foster open communication between students, faculty, parents, and the Police Division;
10. Establish a working relationship with school-sponsored clubs and participate in school-related activities when appropriate;
11. Provide training when requested to elementary, middle, and high school students from standard lesson plans developed or approved by the Commander, School Services and the Principal in the school in which the training will be provided. Lesson plans shall be uniform in content and consistent with the requirements of Division policy and the needs and expectations of HCPS;
12. All SROs shall conduct Signal Blue Training at their assigned schools twice a year. The first training shall be conducted at the start of the school year and the second after Winter Break. Additionally, SROs shall assist schools with other Signal Blue drills scheduled throughout the school year.
13. Provide law-related guidance to students and administrators as needed. SROs shall communicate and work with students to support and encourage positive behavior and interactions between police, students, parents, and faculty.
14. SROs will support the Henrico Police Athletic League (HPAL) and the Achievable Dream Academy (ADA) as required by the Commander, School Services and as time allows;
15. At the end of the month, each officer shall submit a monthly report accounting for their activities for that month.

II. DUTIES / PRIMARY JOB RESPONSIBILITIES OF SCHOOL SERVICES SUPERVISORS
A. Meet with school principals annually to discuss current issues and/or concerns.

B. Meet as required with the HCPS Coordinator of School Safety and Emergency Management.

C. Assist with the scheduling and supervision of narcotic canine sweeps at Henrico County Public Schools.

D. Serve as members of the Henrico County Schools Safety Audit Team.

E. Coordinate the summer assignments of SROs as needed to meet the needs of the Police Division and HCPS. The summer assignments will include but are not limited to: coverage of summer school, as well as support of the HPAL, Police Division services and needs, or any other assignment as required by the Chief of Police (or his designee).

F. Coordinate the weekday scheduling of SROs.

G. Review incident reports and arrest paperwork completed by SROs.

H. Prepare a daily report detailing arrest or other intelligence information that occurs in schools. This report will be shared with personnel within the Police Division who have a need to receive the information.

I. Oversee the Police Explorer Program and the School Crossing Guards.

J. Attend HPAL Board Meetings as required and oversee the Police Support Technicians that are assigned to support HPAL.

K. Attend other meetings (i.e. County Truancy Committee, Too Smart 2 Start Coalition, Certified Crime Prevention Community (CCPC), etc.) as designated by the Chief (or his designee).

III. TRAINING
A. Sworn Staff, Supervisors, and SROs assigned to the School Services Unit are required to successfully complete a vigorous training program that certifies them as Juvenile Services Officers (JSOs) as defined by Division directives or policy. The Commanding Officer, Community Services, with the assistance of the Commanding Officer, Personnel and Training, shall construct a curriculum for this certification that is relevant and practical for all SROs and others working with child services in the Police Division. The training shall be modified or changed as required and the curriculum shall be approved by the Chief of Police prior to be being presented to candidates for the JSO certification.

B. Training for the initial certification will include, but is not limited to:

1. DCJS SRO School;
2. Crisis Intervention Training;
3. Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP);
4. Effective Communications in Schools;
5. Juvenile Arrest Procedures and Laws;
6. Youth Mental Health and Emotional Issues;
7. Bullying and Harassment;
8. Interacting with Students with Disabilities and Special Needs;
9. Adolescent Development;
10. Conflict De-Escalation;
11. Impact of Court Involvement on recidivism and disengagement from schools;
12. Dealing with Autistic and challenged students;
13. Cultural influences on teens;
14. Search and Seizure requirements;
15. Gang Identification and Response;
16. Police Division Policy applicable to SROs;
17. Use of Discretion in a School Environment and Alternatives to Arrest; and/or
18. Any other training as determined that is pertinent and applicable to the duties and responsibilities of a SRO.

C. Annual recertification should cover the following topics, but is subject to change based upon the needs of the unit:

1. Updates to Juvenile Laws;
2. Effective Communications in Schools;
3. Youth Mental Health and Emotional Issues;
4. Bullying and Harassment;
5. Interacting with Student with Disabilities and Special Needs;
6. Adolescent Development;
7. Dealing with Autistic and Challenged Students;
8. Cultural influences on teens.

D. This training may be accomplished through Division In-Service (either online or classroom instruction) and/or other classes offered by the Police Division, DCJS, HCPS, or other outside agencies.

IV. PREVENTION OF CRIME AND VIOLENCE
In accordance with Code of Virginia §22.1-279.9, the School Services Unit will assist the HCPS with the development, implementation, and presentation of programs to prevent violence and crime on school property and at school-sponsored events, which shall include prevention of hazing. Activities designed to prevent the recurrence of violence and crime, including hazing, may include such interventions as education relating to Virginia’s criminal law, school crime lines, peer mediation, conflict resolution, community service requirements, and any program focused on demonstrating the consequences of violence and crime. All SROs shall be provided training in this program and the expectations of an SRO in assisting schools with the development and continuity of such a program.

V. HCPS STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT
In accordance with Code of Virginia §22.1-279.6, the HCPS has a Code of Student Conduct (COSC) which is reviewed and modified as required by law and HCPS policy. Henrico County Police Officers shall not assume any responsibility for the enforcement of any provision of the COSC and shall restrict their involvement from participating in any school actions related to the enforcement of the COSC unless a crime is known to have occurred and the police officer believes his/her intervention is necessary.

VI. SCHOOL SECURITY OFFICERS
A. Police Officers and School Security Officers work together in a school environment to ensure the safety of the school. Preventing crime is where this relationship is a priority. Henrico County Police Officers should avoid taking any action in or on school property which is the responsibility of a SSO when there is an SSO present at the time. If there is no SSO present at the school, the responsibilities of the SSO fall to the school administration.

B. If an SSO detains a student for suspicion of a crime, the responding Police Officer shall not automatically assume custody of the student. After investigating the incident and collecting facts, the Police Officer shall determine in his/her discretion whether:

1. The school administration should or could manage the incident without arrest;
2. Diversion is appropriate given the nature of the crime or the student’s specific circumstances;
3. An arrest is not appropriate for any reason, including lack of probable cause; and/or
4. A crime has been committed and an arrest may be appropriate. If this is determined, officers shall follow the procedures outlined in section IX below.

VII. NARCOTIC CANINE SWEEPS
Canine sweeps are held at Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) middle and high schools to keep them safe and free from narcotics and other contraband. At the request of the Superintendent of Schools, the Police Division will work with the HCPS Office of School Safety and Emergency Management to schedule and conduct the sweeps, which are held at the
convenience of school administrators.

A. Scheduling Narcotic School Sweeps

1. Canine sweeps are typically an administrative function of the schools; therefore, they should only be scheduled at the request of HCPS. The Police Division shall not initiate a request for a canine sweep at a school without reasonable, articulable suspicion.

2. The HCPS Emergency Manager will coordinate directly with the Canine Sergeant to establish dates for conducting the sweeps. Upon receipt of the request, the narcotic canine handlers will compile a list of available dates, and the Canine Sergeant will coordinate with the HCPS Emergency Manager to choose a date. Once a date or dates have been scheduled, the HCPS Emergency Manager will notify the Commander, School Services, to ensure adequate coverage of the sweeps by School Resource Officers.

3. The designated time and location of the sweep(s) will be determined by the HCPS Emergency Manager. 

4. A minimum of two (2) School Resource Officers and a School Services supervisor will be scheduled to assist with each canine sweep.

5. If available, the HCPS Emergency Manager will respond to the school and meet with the school administration and the School Services supervisor in advance of the sweep to review policies and procedures.

6. All administrators, faculty, and School Resource Officers participating in the sweep will be briefed by their respective supervisors prior to the initiation of the sweep.

B. Conducting Narcotic School Sweeps 

1. Prior to the initiation of a sweep, the canine handlers will stage at a predetermined nearby location until summoned by the SRO or School Services supervisor.

2. Classrooms to be screened will be chosen randomly by school administration. 

3. Once the classrooms have been identified and the pre-sweep briefing has been conducted, the school sweep team will move into place and the school will be placed on lockdown. It shall be the sole responsibility of HCPS and their administration to place the school on lockdown prior to starting a school sweep. The School Resource Officer(s) will ensure that all students are in compliance with the lockdown procedures before canines will be deployed.

4. The SRO or School Services supervisor will call the canine team to respond into the school.

5. HCPS employees will enter the classrooms and provide instructions to the students and observe their behavior for indications of violations of the Code of Conduct. Additional HCPS employees will standby in the hallway to observe students once they have exited the classroom. Because these sweeps are an administrative function of the school, it is the responsibility of HCPS personnel to provide instructions to students and control their behavior during the sweep. SROs and the School Services supervisor will stand by to ensure the safety and security of the students, administrators, and canine teams participating in the sweep. Once canines are deployed, the canine handler will have absolute discretion to terminate the sweep should conditions become unsafe for the handler or the canine.

6. Canine handlers will sweep only the areas designated by HCPS administration. If the canine alerts on an item, the handler will notify the SRO and a school administrator. The school administrator will proceed as he or she normally does to investigate a potential violation of the HCPS Code of Conduct. SROs shall not enforce the HCPS Code of Conduct. The SRO will stand by unless the school administrator indicates that they have a possible violation of criminal law. Once the SRO becomes involved, the administrator will take the role of an observer. The handling of evidence and placement of any applicable charges will be pursuant to Police Division policies and procedures. Nothing precludes the officer from acting on a matter if, based on their training and experience, it is necessary to protect the safety of those involved or to preserve evidence of a crime.

7. School administration may also choose to screen vehicles in the parking lot. If the canine alerts on a vehicle, school administration will request the operator and/or owner of the vehicle to open the vehicle so that they may further investigate any potential violations of the HCPS Code of Conduct. 

8. If narcotics or drug material are located as a result of a canine alert, it shall be the responsibility of the SRO to complete all necessary paperwork and notifications. The SRO will provide the canine handler with the following information:

a. Name, date of birth, and identifying information of the subject from which the contraband was recovered; and
b. Any other necessary information required for the handler’s records.

9. Once the sweeps have concluded, a school administrator will release the lockdown and return the school to its normal operations.

C. Review

1. The HCPS Emergency Manager, the School Services supervisor on scene, and the school administration will conduct a debrief immediately following the sweep. A summary of the sweep and its results will be documented in an inter-office memorandum to the Commander, School Services. Any concerns or issues will be addressed prior to scheduling and conducting the next sweep.

VIII. INVESTIGATING INCIDENTS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY
A. Sworn personnel investigating an incident of any kind on school property must comply with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA protects a student’s education records, which is broadly defined as any record that directly relates to a student and which is maintained by the school division or someone acting on the school division’s
behalf.

1. FERPA does not apply to information that is not contained in a record maintained by the school division. For example, FERPA does not prevent an officer from interviewing a school employee or student about what he/she personally witnessed.

2. Before obtaining an education record, such as a written statement, video surveillance, etc., the officer shall:

a. Coordinate with the appropriate HCPS administrator or staff to determine if an emergency, posing an actual, impending, imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or persons, would permit an exception to usual FERPA disclosure requirements.
b. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office should be contacted to request a subpoena duces tecum for needed student records in a case already charged. If a situation is under investigation, but no charges have been sought, the officer shall seek a search warrant through the Magistrate’s Office. If needed, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office can be contacted for guidance on an investigation and/or search warrant.

3. Questions regarding FERPA and access to HCPS records should be referred to the Commanding Officer, Community Services.

IX. ARREST OF STUDENTS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY
A. In every case involving a crime committed by a student in Henrico County Schools, officers shall consider the type of crime committed, the appropriate action that should be taken, the circumstances that may have influenced the student’s behavior prior to committing the crime, and whether or not an arrest will provide the student with the appropriate future direction that will ensure compliance and behavioral changes.

B. Henrico County Police Officers shall arrest a student only as a last resort when dealing with student conduct that involves the commission of a crime. Police Officers should avoid arrests when alternatives to arrest are available and the officer believes that an arrest is not required or necessary for the specific violation. Alternatives to arrest by an officer include, but are not limited to:

1. Referral to the school administration for action other than arrest;
2. Referral to parents or legal guardians for appropriate action;
3. Referral to Juvenile Intake for services or other action that is in the best interest of the student and/or his family.

C. Prior to making an arrest, the Police Officer shall consult and communicate with the highest ranking school official on the school grounds at the time to determine if there are any special circumstances that should be considered in the Police Officer’s application of discretion or decision making.

D. If a Police Officer believes an alternative to arrest is appropriate, but the school administrator or a parent/guardian wishes to pursue charges, the Police Officer shall provide that individual with instructions on how to obtain a petition and have the matter brought before the court. The officer shall include such advice and direction, along with the Police Officer’s reasoning for his/her decision, in the ICR associated with the call or incident.

E. If an arrest is determined to be appropriate and necessary, the Police Officer shall refer to LP-02A or LP-02B.

X. DOCUMENTATION AND REPORTING
A.  A Police Officer shall complete an ICR for any incident or action in which he/she becomes actively engaged while at a school. Officers should include facts and circumstances surrounding the call for service, in particular those that are specifically associated with the application of discretion, alternatives to arrest, deferring to school administration, the involvement of the SSO, and any other relevant facts associated with the incident. When documenting a school incident, Police Officers should consider that even the slightest detail is important to record. 


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